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International Women In Engineering Day 2020 – Serena Fleming

Tuesday 23rd June 2020

International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED20) takes place on 23 June with the theme of ‘Shape The World’. We hope by sharing some of Global Marine Group’s success stories, we can help to raise the profile of women engineers across the globe, and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all.

Tell us a bit about the start of your journey as a cadet?

My journey began in 2017 when I was studying Public Services at college. During this time we were given a talk by SSTG about the Merchant Navy and this is where I first heard about these “cadetships”. This sparked my initial interest in a potential career at sea. For me the idea of going to sea excited me, it sounded adventurous, different and had a lot of qualities to it that suited to me as a person. From there I started working for DFDS Seaways as a stewardess, gaining a bit of seafaring experience. I managed to get a cadetship with Global Marine in 2018 and began my Deck Officer training. It soon become apparent that I was outnumbered by my male peers. Turning up to Warsash Maritime Academy on my first day and realising I was the only women in my class; it was a daunting feeling. It is because of this gender imbalance that I have felt this unspoken reputation to be one of the women to make it in this male dominated industry.

Once I completed my first phase of training I joined the Cable Retriever. Again I was faced with being the only women, this time half way across the world and working alongside men of different ages and nationalities. Not only did I have the usual challenges of adapting to a new life at sea, training and studying, it was all being done in an industry where you are the minority. But one of main challenges I face is this feeling of being out of place. By being the only women on board, it is hard to relate to the rest of the crew. With the distance and limited contact with friends and family, this also makes it harder to overcome these adversities. 

What opportunities have you had and what support have you been given along the way?

There have been a number of individuals within the company that have help me during my training. After a month into my first trip, I was no longer to be the only women as 2/O Kaya Teare joined. It is really positive for me to see another like minded person in a position, where I hope to see myself in the future.  She has told me about her experiences of life at sea, as a women, and has been really helpful in all aspects of my training. 

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Despite my short time in this career I have had a number of amazing opportunities. I have learnt many valuable skills, I have traveled to places I never thought I would get to see, I also got to represent the Merchant Navy during the festival of Remembrance last year. All of these would not be possible if I did not make the decision to join this career. 

Now half way through my training I can say so far this career has overall been a huge learning venture and positive experience. The crew have been supportive through my training so far and make life on board enjoyable. With every exam I pass, new skills I learn, challenge I overcome, I am proving to myself and others prospective women that it’s possible to have a career at sea.